Case dismissed against ex-Lawrence police officer who shot man during traffic stop

A judge has dismissed the case against a former Lawrence police officer who shot a man during a traffic stop last year and was charged with reckless aggravated battery.

The officer who fired the shot, Brindley Blood, was charged in Douglas County District Court. Blood had maintained the May 29 shooting was accidental and she meant to reach for her stun gun instead of her firearm.

A news release from county prosecutor’s office Wednesday said a judge dismissed the case.

An order signed by Douglas County District Court Judge Peggy Kittel said Blood would not stand trial on the criminal charge after the court considered evidence heard in a preliminary hearing last week.

The judge ruled that the evidence presented didn’t show probable cause that the officer acted recklessly.

The case was dismissed without prejudice. District Attorney Charles Branson said in a written statement that his office does not anticipate filing any different charges against Blood. Instead, the district attorney said, his office would review the ruling and determine whether it should appeal the dismissal.

“Clearly, Ms. Blood was negligent during the deployment of her firearm. Kansas law, however, provides little to no guidance on how to proceed in these circumstances. Kansas, unlike some states, does not recognize criminal negligence. Kansas does recognize reckless conduct,” Branson’s statement said.

“To determine whether or not probable cause existed that Ms. Blood acted recklessly, the Court had to determine whether ‘a trier of fact could conclude with the evidence presented that Ms. Blood consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk,’” Branson said. “The Court concluded she did not act recklessly.”

Dash cam video of the shooting was released Monday by the Lawrence Police Department.

It shows a driver, Akira S. Lewis, wrestle a Lawrence police officer to the ground during the traffic stop and fight him before being shot in the back by another officer, who was later identified as Blood.

Lewis had been pulled over in the 100 block of West Sixth Street for not wearing a seat belt and refused to comply with demands from Officer Ian McCann to hand over his driver’s license and insurance information.

Throughout the video, Lewis repeatedly said he was singled out by McCann, who he said didn’t stop other motorists for not wearing their seat belts. Lewis asked McCann to summon a supervisor. McCann refused to do so.

McCann called for backup and told Lewis he would be arrested if he did not cooperate.

“You’re about to go to jail on a seat belt violation, are you really wanting to do that?” McCann is heard asking in the video. “You could give me your driver’s license, I could write you a ticket and you can drive home.”

Lewis responded: “I haven’t done nothing.”

After Blood arrived, McCann opened the car door and physically removed Lewis from the vehicle.

Blood tried to intervene as McCann and Lewis wrestled. She pulled her gun and shot Lewis on the back of his shoulder.

Other officers arrived, and McCann and Blood handcuffed Lewis.

Douglas County prosecutors asked the Johnson County District Attorney’s office to review the case because Lewis was both a victim and defendant.

Lewis, who survived the shooting, was charged in Douglas County with battery on a law enforcement officer, interference with a law enforcement officer, no proof of insurance and driving without a seat belt.

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.